Generating electricity from Wood scraps

Hello, I am brand new to this community. I run a kitchen cabinet company and we have have quite a bit of waste wood that we get hauled to the landfill every week.

I am trying to get a general idea of what it would take to turn that wood waste into electric. Are there any companies that do this on a larger scale?

We have have about 30 cubic yards of scrap wood and plywood sent to the landfill each week and sometimes twice a week. So we have a decent budget to put towards equipment.

My guess is we may be better off burning the wood in an outdoor burner and turning it into heat, though during the summer this isn’t as useful.

Some may ask why we don’t just burn the wood rather then sending it to the landfill, it is because we got shut down by Osha or the EPA because a neighbor reported us.

Anyways, if anyone has words of wisdom or an existing company that might be able to help us, I would greatly appreciate this.



Welcome Lindsey. I’m sure Matt Ryder will be happy to help you with that problem. He builds excellent commercial gasifiers. I’m sure he will respond when he sees this thread.


You may want to search for Patrick Johnson on this site he ran his sawmill on wood scraps in Africa


Welcome! You can for sure turn the best of that scrap into electricity. If you have scraps of MDF, particle board, scraps with laminate on them, those may be a challenge. If you have scraps of plain wood, especially hardwoods, you can run a generator off of that. Two ways you can do it would be to convert it to charcoal, and run an engine. Your neighbors would probably not be happy about that. The best way would be to chunk it up into small cubes and run it in a WK style or Imbert style gasifier. There are other designs out there, I am just speaking in generalities. The best size its cigarette pack size, a few inches per side. (1x2, 2x2, 2x3, etc.). you can mix in smaller stuff as long as you don’t put in too much at a time. Larger stuff can also be put in sparingly.
Whereabouts are you located, in general, no need to be specific, just thinking who or what may be close by… :cowboy_hat_face:


MikeR. brings up a good point.
Where you are. This one factor will pre-determine what you can do.
What you be required so far as the Outside Agencies demands will be far more challenging than the scrap wood turned to power. Your volume needed to handle means you will never be able to go-small, unnoticed.
You are already on the EPA and OSHA watch lists. Under alarmed neighbors watch too.

Your weekly quanites is the same as generated by a Co-Op plywood mill I once worked at in any single two shift operating day. They had a 1920’s steam-electric generator whose boiler firebox got fed all of their woody scrap wastes. The beginner break in job for all male and some females was to continually clean up and feed the HOG grinder chute.
Never any visible smoke out their stack. Only ever for a short time lighting back up after bi-annual full mill shut downs. The steam first to generate internally used electricity and in the log peelers knives. Remaining heat energy (wood-heat!) used in the kiln driers.
Not saying you should go wood scraps to steam. They had a needed bi-annully State/Osha inspected dangerous pressure vessel system. They DID make evil-planet killing CO2 and particulates emissions. They shut down, failed; due to 1990’s Clinton Forestry compromise plan. Could no longer get enough quality sized peeler logs. Maybe save a few Owls and cost in just this one mill hundreds of family supporting jobs. 25% staffed by hard working women.
Forwards now into the 2000’s they would have been shut down by now by the extreme safety- ninny’s and the ECO-Greens leveraging thru regulatory agencies. Stupids extremists who have now now created a good share of the homeless problems here in the PNW urban areas.
Class jobs security for then as educated degreed, Jobs and Addictions counselors and public Agencies administrative staff.

Now wood gassing it . . . can be done with no special needed pressure vessels. Hurrah!
Can be done with almost virtually no external emission that could be tele-photoed. Hurrah!
Or drone fly-over sampled. Hurrah!
But it IS an intentional carbon monoxide producer. One of the primary fuel component gasses.
On OSHA’s radar screen . . . will a single employee; mad, angry, be able to get you shutdown? Yep.

If you do this think of how you will use the electricity and heats made.
I suggest splitting out some of your Shop/mills electrical use consumers onto their own separate sub-feed electrical system. Then NOT connected or possibly feeding into your Grid supplier; they at least could not become the Dog you must also please.
State, and Trades, and good 'ol OSHA still will have authority to make demands on any system you will set up and operate.

I am not trying to be dour-mouth pessimistic.
I just know here in my State of Washington, county of Clark what used to exist as heavy and light manufacturing. 25,000 jobs at it’s highest points. Now? 1,000 at best.
One forced shut 15 years ago, a 20-30 person local employee cabinet shop just 3 miles from me. Halfway up out on a rural county dead end road. Area not county zoned for manufacturing. Variances applied for. Denied. No exceptions. Boon-dogging by several larger in-urban cabinet competition shops, highly suspected.
So far-out rural located those buildings could not even been converted to warehousing.
The former employed? A few work for less at WalMart, and conveince stores. One I know at the Dollor Tree. 2-3 eventually suicided out. A few took federal dollars job retraining programs. Work now In someones IT departments.
And more than a handful became alcoholics and drug addicts. Lost homes. Lost families. Divorce.

I do hope you do not live in a nanny-State area.
Are located in an area that does still support light manufacturing as an asset to the community.

Steve Unruh


Thanks for the response. I am located in Ohio and the heart of amish country. Manufacturing is highly valued here, however I do appreciate the the picture you painted. We do not process any rough lumber at this point and so while we do have a plenty of scrap plywood, we don’t have as much hardwood.


Hello LindseyS.
What you need to try and dig back out in the works of New Zealander Doug Wiiliams.
He did set up a woodgasification power system at a furniture manufacture in Ireland. They used MDF cutoff and scraps. They claimed success.
He also set up a woodgasification system in Chile at a cabinet? Furniture manufacturer. Who also claimed successes.

Doug William promoted and designed for many decades.
He aged out and sadly died.
His site link here in the DOW Library seems unsupported no longer acessable.
Maybe still some info on an internet way-back site.
Maybe some info still viewable of his on other sites. Search using his name. The name of Fluidyne systems.

Using the top tool bar magnifying glass search feature look up the woodgas all powering wood mill system then in South Africa; Patrick Johnson set up.
Similar waste quanities as yours.
Have to be similar electrical and heat power needs.

Best of luck in your endeavors.
Steve Unruh


Here’s one of his other website URLs.


Welcome. I hope you stay. :slight_smile:

I would look and see what has for that much material. They -may- have a solution out of the box that meets emissions. I haven’t looked much lately, but last I saw they were working on a large biochar system that also made electric.

Otherwise, it can probably be shredded and turned into mulch, or mdf manufacturers I think will buy it if you have one fairly local.


Mmm, wouldnt what that mulch in my garden. Not much to with MDF then recycle or burn it.

Factories payed a €300 20 years ago when sawdust container was full. Now they get payed that amount for the ‘green’ energy.

Interiorcompanies dont pay much for their sawdust. Dont know really. The thing I know, it is a company around Amsterdam that burns it in their own CHP. And you see them everywhere, a few 100 km is no problem. Last week fixed a small system on a container. Company is coming and sucking it for emptying. For more then twenty years I ask myself, when is this forbidden? Nope, it goes on.
Plates is a different story, you wallet is empty very quickly. Shredder and blow it in a container.
Dont know if companies like that exist around you. More easy then gasifying a difficult feedstock.